I began paying closer attention to Fayetteville’s recycling expenditures in October 2013 when staff requested City Council by-pass the bid process and pay $25,000 to a solid waste district for educational purposes. I asked why bidding was being by-passed, and the deliverables were, what? An alderman suggested council members pull up the answers on their computers. What followed was an uncomfortable silence, and the item was tabled.

In September 2014 City Council approved paying Kessler Consulting $264,890.00 to create a ten year solid waste (garbage and recycling) plan. In August 2015 Council approved paying Kessler an additional $39,980.00 for composting and single stream pilots. We have yet to see that ten year plan.

In October 2015 City Council (with two opposing votes) approved spending over three million dollars to renovate the solid waste facilities/offices. Until we have the ten year plan from Kessler, HOW will we know operational, staff and office needs, and thus proceed with multi-million dollar renovations?

The multi-million dollar renovations are currently under way at the 15th Street facility. I doubt we’ll hear anything negative about single stream from staff receiving over $3,000,000 in upgraded facilities.

Meanwhile, Atlanta, Houston, Chattanooga, and Little Rock have been outed for their single stream messes. Taxpayers thought glass was being recycled. Much, if not all, was landfilled. Nashville recently decided glass should be kept separate.

Single stream contamination is so serious the glass industry recently formed a new association just to deal with it. I wish the public and other remanufacturers (plastic, paper, and metals) would come together and stand up to politicians and haulers, who’ve hijacked and trashed our nation’s recycling programs.

Because of intense competition to gain control of the volumes of material put out at the curb, (remember, haulers make money by hauling large volumes) two major paper companies have built single stream facilities. Imagine the time, fuel, equipment, labor, energy, and money required to clean up paper that has been mixed with “God only knows” what in the single stream (single compartment) recycle truck.

With single stream collection, very few curbside containers get checked for contamination. Do you want to handle grocery sacks, newspapers, hand towels, food container boxes, etc. made from paper mixed with used diapers, kitty litter, or rotten food?

Contamination always increases when the public is placated rather than educated. When citizens were engaged as volunteers in local recycling programs, education occurred via hands-on experience. Mixing recyclables together, while reducing citizen engagement has resulted in contaminated materials instead of useable feedstock.

Hopefully in January 2017, with Fayetteville’s new City Council, common sense will prevail when making financial decisions about recycling. Four council positions and the mayor’s seat are open. Alan Long in Ward 4 has my vote. He and I may not agree on everything, but he does listen, and has respect for institutional memory and experience. He educates himself on issues. He doesn’t simply rubber stamp the latest magic bullet idea.


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